Oak Knoll’s Junior Twigs: Rooted in Purpose and Branching Out in Service

With a name like Oak Knoll, we naturally gravitate toward imagery alluding to flora. Our approach to educating the whole child is “Rooted in Purpose,” and our pre-K students are known as “Little Acorns.” Combine that penchant with a history and commitment to community service, and it’s only natural that Oak Knoll would be one of the first schools in the county to partner with the Overlook Medical Center Auxiliary to form a Junior Twig club.

The Overlook Medical Center formed the Auxiliary Twigs in the 1940s, consisting of service-oriented individuals coming together in small regional groups to give back to Overlook Medical Center through volunteer fundraising and projects. The Auxiliary initiated the Junior Twig program in 2018 to expand community service options to youth in the area. 

Oak Knoll became one of the first schools to form a Jr. Twig Club in 2021. Since then, our club has donated children’s grief books to the Atlantic Health System’s Child Life program, written cards of gratitude to patients and employees of the medical center, created Thanksgiving cards and baskets for people in need, and contributed tiles for the medical center’s Art for Gratitude fundraiser. Other schools in the area have since followed suit.

Oak Knoll Jr. Twig Club is open to students in grades 7 to 12. “There are two main service day projects a year,” explained Christine Mahoney, faculty mentor to the club. “If you are a member of the Oak Knoll Twig, you must commit to at least one service project. In October, we went to the medical center as a group and performed several projects, including making Lights of Love cards. We packaged envelopes with this particular card that will go to people who have lost a loved one and would like to donate money and have a candle in the medical center to commemorate someone they have lost.”

Oak Knoll Twig members are in touch with the Overlook Auxiliary throughout the year and step up when needed in addition to the main annual service days. The club seeks various ways to cater to the needs of individuals working at the medical center on all levels, as well as patients. Some ideas trickle down from the auxiliary while members brainstorm others and present them for approval. The club continuously challenges members to suggest ideas to support the medical center.

“Being a member of Oak Knoll’s Junior Twig has grown my appreciation for the incredible medical center staff at Overlook who choose to dedicate their time to treating patients with articulate care,” said Twig Club Co-President Heidi Pearce ’24. “In the club, we recognize the importance of small joys to put a smile on a staff member or patient’s face, especially in the chaotic backdrop of a medical center. My motivation to be a leader is driven by my aspiration to pursue a career in nursing and my current work providing pre-hospital care as an Emergency Medical Technician.”

Her counterpart, Co-President Kelsey Scully ’24 added, “Two years ago, I was blessed enough to meet many of the staff, nurses, and leaders of Overlook Medical Center. After that, I knew I wanted to be a Twig. Junior Twig has been a large part of my high school experience and has opened my eyes to the importance of service and supporting our healthcare workers. As a club, we have inspired younger girls to join us in supporting, donating, and caring for the Overlook community. As club leaders, we feel blessed to put smiles on people’s faces and inspire younger students. “

Junior Twig members are wholeheartedly rooted in purpose and branching out with love and compassion to those needing financial, emotional, or physical support in the surrounding community. Recipients of their efforts are appreciative during this holiday season and throughout the year.